Community Cohesion, Communitarianism and Neoliberalism

Stephen Cowden, Gurnam Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
239 Downloads (Pure)


Policy discourse around ‘community cohesion’ has displaced liberal multiculturalist and anti-racist approaches with a much narrower focus on the promotion of ‘British values’ and, for minority communities, through a ‘faith’ agenda. We argue that these developments derive from the predominance of the doctrine of communitarianism within the contemporary policy terrain, influencing both New Labour and the Conservatives. The convergence of this with neoliberal social and economic imperatives has created a discourse of ‘conditional citizenship’ for Muslim communities particularly. There is a major policy contradiction where faith based approaches are promoted on one hand, but, in the context of transnational Islamist terror, lead to whole Muslim communities being pathologised as ‘insufficiently British’ on the other. We discuss the ‘Trojan Horse schools’ affair in Birmingham in 2014 as an example of this. We conclude in calling for an urgent refocussing of the debate toward secular approaches in policy, alongside looking at the specific economic and social conditions that we argue are the root cause of breakdowns in community cohesion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-286
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number2
Early online date18 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


  • Communitarianism
  • Community cohesion
  • Multiculturalism
  • Neoliberalism
  • ‘Trojan Horse schools’


Dive into the research topics of 'Community Cohesion, Communitarianism and Neoliberalism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this